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Why Do These Drugs Fail Miserably at Heart Attack Prevention?

September 02, 2010 | 42,416 views
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a ball and stick model of Crestor, synthetic statinStatins are the world's most-prescribed class of medications. About 24 million Americans take drugs such as Pravachol, Mevacor, Lipitor, Zocor and Crestor.

But in recent months, the drugs' medical reputation has come under tough scrutiny. 

Today, a majority of people who use statins are doing so for primary prevention of heart attacks and strokes. It is this use of statins that has come under recent attack.

According to the Los Angeles Times:

“[M]edical researchers found that, contrary to widely held belief, statins do not drive down death rates among those who take them to prevent a first heart attack.

A second article cast significant doubt on the influential findings of [the 2006 JUPITER] study ... that has driven the expansion of statins' use by healthy people ...

A third article suggested potential ethical, clinical and financial conflicts of interest at work in the execution of the JUPITER study”.

 

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

The JUPITER study referred to above was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2008. It boasted that statin drugs could lower the risk of heart attack by 54 percent, the risk of stroke by 48 percent, the risk of needing angioplasty or bypass surgery by 46 percent, and the risk of death from all causes by 20 percent.

However, the funding for this study came from none other than Astra-Zeneca, the maker of Crestor, so these results were perhaps to be expected.

Now, the JUPITER study is finally starting to receive the scrutiny it should have been given from the very beginning, considering how instrumental it was in driving up statin drug sales.

Surprise, Surprise: Millions of Statin Users Receive No Benefit

Originally, statin drugs were prescribed for secondary prevention, meaning the prevention of a second heart attack or stroke if you’d already suffered one and had clear signs of heart disease.

But the JUPITER study dramatically expanded the market by claiming statins could be of significant benefit as primary prevention, i.e. “preventive medicine” – to help people with certain risk factors of heart disease – although otherwise healthy -- from having a heart attack or stroke in the first place.

But once again, we find that industry-funded claims of health benefits for highly profit-producing drugs need to be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism.

No less than three articles were published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in the month of June, refuting the claims laid down by the industry-funded JUPITER study.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

"Tens of billions of dollars of revenue for the sponsor over the patent life of the drug were at stake in the JUPITER trial, as well as potentially millions of dollars in royalties for the principal investigator," wrote Dr. Lee Green of the University of Michigan Medical School in an editorial accompanying the trio of studies.

"Doubtless, both sponsor and investigative team believe they made their design decisions for the right reasons," Green added. "But social psychology research provides abundant evidence that we human beings both respond strongly to self-interest incentives and firmly believe that we do not."

Indeed, it appears as though the JUPITER study may have fallen prey to such “self-interest incentives,” allowing the researchers to find what needed to be found in order to justify their paychecks.

One of these three new studies titled Cholesterol lowering, cardiovascular diseases, and the rosuvastatin-JUPITER controversy: a critical reappraisal, carefully reviewed the methods and the results of the JUPITER trial, concluding that:

“The trial was flawed.

It was discontinued… after fewer than 2 years of follow-up, with no differences between the 2 groups on the most objective criteria.

Clinical data showed a major discrepancy between significant reduction of nonfatal stroke and myocardial infarction but no effect on mortality from stroke and myocardial infarction.

Cardiovascular mortality was surprisingly low compared with total mortality-between 5% and 18%-whereas the expected rate would have been close to 40%. Finally, there was a very low case-fatality rate of myocardial infarction, far from the expected number of close to 50%.

The possibility that bias entered the trial is particularly concerning because of the strong commercial interest in the study.

… The results of the trial do not support the use of statin treatment for primary prevention of cardiovascular diseases and raise troubling questions concerning the role of commercial sponsors.”

In addition, the meta-analysis of 11 randomized controlled trials, found no evidence to back up the JUPITER trial claim that statins can reduce your risk of death when used as primary prevention against heart disease.

Please remember that statin drugs are clearly NOT “preventive medicine,” and are not the way to prevent heart attack or stroke, should you have risk factors for heart disease.

Idiotic Ideas Reach an All Time High

Meanwhile, British “experts” have come up with one of the dumbest ideas I have ever heard of.

They suggest that fast food outlets should hand out cholesterol-lowering statin drugs with their food to counteract the ill effects of the meal.

You may think I’m kidding, but I’m really not making this up. I wish I was.

The article, published in the August 15 issue of the American Journal of Cardiology, states:

“…statin therapy can neutralize the cardiovascular risk caused by harmful diet choices. In other spheres of human activity, individuals choosing risky pursuits (motorcycling, smoking, driving) are advised or compelled to use measures to minimize the risk (safety equipment, filters, seatbelts).

Likewise, some individuals eat unhealthily. Routine accessibility of statins in establishments providing unhealthy food might be a rational modern means to offset the cardiovascular risk.

Fast food outlets already offer free condiments to supplement meals. A free statin-containing accompaniment would offer cardiovascular benefits, opposite to the effects of equally available salt, sugar, and high-fat condiments.

Although no substitute for systematic lifestyle improvements, including healthy diet, regular exercise, weight loss, and smoking cessation, complimentary statin packets would add, at little cost, 1 positive choice to a panoply of negative ones.”

The analogy that you can reduce harm from a fast food diet with a statin drug, in the same way that you can prevent mortality from car accidents by wearing seat belts, is beyond ludicrous.

If seatbelts -- like statins -- caused muscle problems, increased cancer risk, anemia, acidosis, sexual dysfunction, immune depression, pancreas and liver dysfunction, and cataracts, then perhaps this could be a viable analogy.

As it stands, seatbelts do not come with a panoply of detrimental side effects. Unlike statins, they are nothing more than a harmless strap that keeps you from flying out the window should you have an accident. Statins, on the other hand, will drive your health into the ground, and that low-cost “complimentary” statin packet would undoubtedly rocket health care costs into the stratosphere.

No, there is no such thing as a “free” statin with your lunch.

Chewable Lipitor is also being proposed, to accommodate the latest target market – your children. This despite the fact there are over 900 studies showing the harmful effects of these drugs.

Suggestions like these look like April Fool’s jokes, but I’m afraid they’re not... These are medical recommendations based on pure greed, without any regard for human health.

Believe me, if we start doling out statins in middle schools, burying your child before yourself or your spouse will become the rule rather than the exception.

How to Lower Your Cholesterol Naturally

There’s really NO reason to take statins and suffer the consequences from these ill-conceived drugs. If you truly want to normalize your cholesterol levels, following these simple lifestyle changes can get you there:

  • First, normalize your insulin levels by eliminating sugar (particularly fructose) and grains. A fasting insulin level is easy to draw and is very inexpensive. It should be below 3.
  • Second, you can take a high-quality krill oil or fish oil that is chock full of beneficial animal based omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Eat the right foods for your nutritional type, and eat a good portion of your food raw.
  • Additionally, if you are a man, or a woman who is in menopause, you should check your iron levels, as elevated levels of iron can cause major oxidative damage in the blood vessels, heart and other organs. Excess iron is also one of the major contributing factors of cancer risk.
  • Regular exercise is another important tool that can help. When you exercise you increase your circulation and the blood flow throughout your body. The components of your immune system are also better circulated, which means your immune system has a better chance of fighting an illness before it has the opportunity to spread.
  • Energy Psychology methods such as Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) can also be helpful for cholesterol. Read this press release for the possibilities: “Doctors Use New Acupressure Technique to Lower Cholesterol and Triglyceride Levels: Medications Unnecessary”
  • Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol excessively.

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